The Last 10 Months ~ A Personal Battle

Becoming a blogger was one of the scariest yet most exciting adventures of my life. I am so very thankful every day for your continued support and allowing me to share my passion for vintage fashion with all of you. One thing that may come as a total surprise to everyone is that although I do have a very public lifestyle being a blogger, I really do my very best to keep my personal life private. I went back and for a very long time on whether or not I should share this with all of you and I came to the realization if in doing so, I help can someone else… that in itself was worth sharing my personal battle over the past 10 months.

First and foremost, this story is not going to finish with me asking for any kind of financial support from my readers…I promise you!!!

It all began last July, when I happened to notice a few little red marks on my hands that I assumed were just regular bug bites for that time of the year, I never gave them a second thought. The following morning, I woke up and noticed that those spots were now much larger and multiplied becoming quite itchy…again, me thinking maybe it was just a little skin rash…went about my day. By day 3, my hands were completely filled with what looked like hives/rash that was so insanely itchy that the pharmacist said I needed to go to the Emergency since it was the weekend. The doctors were baffled and thought maybe it was a virus similar to Hand/Foot/Mouth that children typically get and sent me home saying it “should” pass. The next morning, the itch had turn to extreme pain that I cannot even begin to describe and it started appearing on my feet. I called my family doctor that morning and was told to come in immediately. Everyone was baffled; Dr. N and her colleagues ruled out the ER’s diagnosis and sent me for a bunch of blood work to pinpoint what exactly it was that I had. The results were all inconclusive but Dr. N was fairly certain it was an auto-immune disease called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). In adults, this disease can lead to Kidney failure for the 6 weeks that it’s present in the body which meant weekly tests to watch for any signs of kidney trouble. Once I safely past the 6 weeks mark, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief but Dr. N felt there was a need to run more elaborate tests to see if anything was missed. Since I have always been in great health, her gut feeling told her something wasn’t adding up. I remember when she said, “Jessica, I am sending you for a couple ultrasounds on your abdomen and pelvis.” Ok…that sounds easy enough right?

A couple weeks later, I had my first ultrasound on my abdomen and sensed something was amiss when the lab tech was lightly (very lightly) scanning my right side below the ribs and I felt sharp pains. I asked the tech if that was normal and she replied that it could be nothing…but I instantly knew she found something with all the images she was taking in that area. Now the online guru that I am, I went home and searched the inter webs (bad idea I know) on what organs are located in that area: right kidney, liver, gallbladder, and part of the colon. In talking with my bestie Amber who works in the medical field, we came to the conclusion that it my gallbladder was causing the pain. The second ultrasound was a few days later and I was told the results would be sent within 4-5 days to my doctor. Now I wait… When my doctor’s office phoned a couple days later, they insisted that I come in right away after work. Panic set in, this doesn’t sound good at all. I prepared myself mentally the best I could and went in that afternoon. Dr. N began going over the results: “Jessica, your gallbladder is FULL of stones which is very unusual for your age and healthy lifestyle. It has to come out, so you will need surgery.” She then asked if I had been experiencing pain on the right side and it never event dawned on me…YES! I had fractured a rib years’ earlier and always thought they were phantom pains from not healing properly, so I never thought twice about it. Ok, I can handle this…a gallbladder is no biggie right? But Dr. N wasn’t done… “Jessica, they also found spots (lesions) on your liver, they are most likely benign and nothing to be concerned about but they recommend sending you for an MRI.” Ok…panic is now setting in. Believe it or not, she was still not done with the results… “Jessica, they also found a very large (5mm+) cyst on your left ovary that will also require surgery to remove”. At this point, I was beyond overwhelmed and starting to freak out. How did I go from being 100% healthy to needing 2 surgeries and who knows what else once they knew what was on my liver. I left there in a daze and went home to tell my husband the news.

The next step was getting referred to a general surgeon and gynecologist, with wait times of 6+months! My appointment with the Surgeon was not until January 2016 and Gyno late Feb (it was August 2015 at the time). Yes, Canadian healthcare is free but it comes with the downfall of very long wait times. Six weeks later, I went for follow up ultrasounds to confirm if there were any changes and from there Dr. N decided to proceed with the MRI’s for a clearer diagnosis. Once the MRI’s were complete, I waited for a call with the results. When the call came, it was the same as last time…”Jessica, Dr. N needs to see you immediately”. My heart sank. The MRI confirmed the prognosis that my gallbladder was full of stones and the ovarian cyst was getting larger. I was fine with that really; we were more concerned about the liver. The radiologist believed the spots were Focal nodular hyperplasia (benign lesions) but could not exclude “metastases” aka Cancer that has metastasized from another source in the body. In an instant, my whole world came crashing down on me. Since I had no other major symptoms except the ovarian cyst, Dr. N strongly believed there was no way I had cancer. We both agreed that I should take the CA125 test to rule out if I had the cell markers for ovarian cancer. On the drive home that day, I completely broke down. I cannot even begin to tell you all the thoughts and express the fear that goes through one’s mind when you think…”I might have cancer”. I was a complete wreck telling my husband the news but hearing the words “Jessica, we will get through whatever it is together” was what I needed at that very moment. The blood tests came back the next morning…Negative! …all levels were normal. It was a huge relief for everyone, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. By this time, it was late November and I would now have to wait until January to see the surgeon.

Every month that passed, my gallbladder which we named “Fred” was causing more frequent severe pain episodes despite my healthy diet and “Oliver” (the cyst) had his own bouts…often at the same time. January finally came and I was really looking forward to finally getting my surgery date to evict Fred. The first consultation with the surgeon didn’t go at all as planned and there was no surgery date booked. I won’t bore you with all the details but the surgeon felt like everyone who handled my case was incompetent so he wanted to run a bunch more tests to rule out “cancer” before he could safely operate. After each test came back negative one by one, we were cautiously optimistic. When the final test came back on my liver to confirm the lesions were indeed benign, everyone rejoiced at the prognosis…I was indeed CANCER FREE! YIPPEE!!!!! I finally saw the gynecologist in February and the two doctors decided it best that they perform both laparoscopic surgeries at the same time on May 12th.

When the date was finally set, it was like the weight of the past 8+ months hit me all at once and I fell apart. I had to give up working out back in the fall because it took everything in me to just to get through each day with a smile on my face meanwhile I was in constant pain which was making me physically and emotionally drained. My clothes were no longer fitting how they should, the scale was going up and there was nothing I could do to control how my body was reacting to Fred and Oliver. I was a shell of myself when I reached my breaking point; emotional, depressed, exhausted and hating my body because it was the enemy. I was SCARED!!! Until this moment, surgery seemed intangible because it was going to happen so far in the future but now it was only weeks away. Yes, I know these are routine procedures which are minimally invasive (if all goes as planned)…but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying to someone who has always been healthy. Fortunately, I am surrounded by incredible family, friends and coworkers that have been there for me when I was too proud to say I needed to lean on them. I could not do it by myself as I had tried so hard to do since this all began…I don’t know what I would have done without them.

The end was in sight…but with only a month to go, I suddenly developed severe migraines and headaches that lasted for 3-4 days at a time week after week. With a little push of my best friend Amber, I went back to see Dr. N because something wasn’t right. Apparently the type of migraines I was experiencing (aura) are a dangerous sign that can lead to a stroke due to a reaction to birth control. Oh yay… just what I needed to hear. Dr. N decided it was best to send me for another MRI, this time on my head since that was about the only body part left that we never checked. Lol. The results took a while longer than usual, but Dr. N phoned me personally after work to say there were no signs of tumors or masses but…there is always a damn but these days…the radiologist noted “mild mass loss” which is not common in people my age. To err on the side of caution, Dr. N is referring me to a neurologist in hopes that the migraines will disappear post-surgery and there is no need to see the specialist. All fingers, toes crossed that the migraines go away after Fred & Oliver are evicted and I am 100% my healthy old self again.

Now that May 12 is only days away, I must take a little break from blogging to recuperate and get well again. The good news is…I have a team of incredible bloggers and fans who answered my call for a top secret project to guest post for the readers of Pin Up Persuasion. I want to thank them all in advance for stepping up to the plate and delivering exciting new content to the blog. Lastly, I would like to thank all the fans of Pin Up Persuasion for everything!!! The last 10 months would have been much more trying if I didn’t have all of you to interact with, sharing photos of gorgeous clothing and being surrounded by all of your positive energy that I hold dear in my heart. I read every comment, message and emoji that you send my way. Fret not, I’ll be back to blogging before you know it and checking in on social media while recuperating at home. Big hugs to all Pin Up Persuasion readers and fans, I love you all so very much!


45 thoughts on “The Last 10 Months ~ A Personal Battle

  1. Oh Jess! Big hugs and love from BC! As someone who just had a uterine surgery I can imagine your stress level. Make sure to take time for yourself and it is so good that you know yourself well enough that you went to the doctor about each of your symptoms. As women we often convince ourselves that we are over reacting etc, but we know when something is up with out bodies! Good luck on the surgery, our surgeons are very good (even if we have to wait for them)!

    • Nadine, I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. I feel so lucky to have such a persistent family physician that pushed for answers. I am looking forward to being the old me again. xo

  2. Jessica, I had no idea what you’ve endured! I’m glad to hear that your doctors and your support team (family and friends) are here for you during this challenging time. I’m sending you lots of love, happy thoughts and healing vibes and look forward to your return once you’ve recuperated ❤ I love that you've lined up guest posts, it is fantastic way to sample the work of other wonderful bloggers.

  3. you’ve been through a lot in such a short amount of time, and it’s in those times you can really rely on the people who love you and the onew who care for you , Glad things seem to go the right way for you take care and get better !

  4. Wow. I’m always shocked to here what people have to go through with health problems. I wish you the very best, and hope you’re feeling better soon!

  5. Aw, I’m so sorry to know you have been struggling. Hang in there and I’m sure that you will be back on your feet and feeling good very soon! thanks too for sharing, that was very brave and I think it’s very helpful to so many who may be struggling with something or have a big health battle to fight themselves. Will be thinking of you Jessica and looking forward to seeing you back on the blog!! HUGS!!

    • I am happy to hear that sharing my story will hopefully help others who are struggling with health issues. No one should go through it alone. Thank you for your super sweet words. xo

  6. Thanks for sharing with us, Jess! I went through something VERY similar 2 years ago, so I know the mental & emotional toll something like this takes on you. Prayers & best wishes for a speedy recovery, & rest up, Hunny!!! XOXOXO

  7. So sorry to hear about your recent struggles. Just last month I had an emergency laparoscopy to remove a ruptured 7cm cyst on my right ovary (thankfully they managed to save my ovary) which had caused internal bleeding. I was having the most excruciating pains where it felt like a knife stabbing me under my right ribcage and through to my right shoulder. The first 12 hours in hospital they basically prepped me for Gallbladder removal, as the rib/shoulder pains coincided with gallbladder issues. It was only after I had an ultrasound, and like you, the tech lingered in my lower abdomen taking snaps for quite a while, that I knew something else was up. The severe rib/shoulder pains I had ended up being the internal bleeding and within an hour they had me in theatre (thankfully at the time I wasn’t aware just how life threatening it was so I remained pretty calm). The surgery itself went well and i started feeling myself again after a week. Find yourself some nice baggy clothing and underwear that sits low at the front, so it doesn’t irritate the incision on the pubic hair line. I’ve only just been able to wear some of my regular clothing again this past week, and even then it’s just been swing skirts and dresses that sit above my belly button (so it misses that incision). I’m now about to start my journey with a fertility clinic to try and find out why my body hates me haha. I wish you all the best with your surgery and your recovery! Oh and prepare to look 4 months pregnant that first week haha. It’s crazy how much gas they fill you up with! xo

    • Linda,
      Thank you so very much for sharing your story, I can’t even imagine how much pain you must have been in when the cyst ruptured. It’s such a relief knowing they were able to save the ovary, I am not sure yet if mine has been compromised but they will have to do what is necessary either way. Thank you for the helpful tips, I went and picked up some cute disney nightgowns tonight to be comfy post surgery. Best of luck with the specialist, I hope you won’t have to experience such a traumatic thing ever again. xo

  8. I am so sorry to hear about your struggles. I am happy to hear that the surgery will be soon. Sending thoughts and prayers that the surgeries are successful and that your migraines go away and you return to health.

  9. I hope you are feeling 100% soon! I am glad you have a supportive, wonderful husband as well as family and friends to help you. Take good care of yourself so you can rest & heal.

  10. So sorry Jessica, wishing you lots of love, light, and strength, for a speedy recovery! Rest up and be kind to yourself xx

  11. Darling lady, how brave you have been! How even more brave you are to share all you have been going through. As one who suffers through countless health woes and had to have a total hysterectomy due to fibroids the size of grapefruits, I know how scary and isolating it can be….know we are all here for you! Feel free to contact me privately any time you need a shoulder from someone who has been through the wringer health wise. I know you have a large circle of friends and now you have one more!!!

  12. So sorry you’ve been going through such dreadful trials while maintaining such a brave face for all of your readers and fans. t says so much about you that you’ve been able to keep on sending such positivity out into the world, even when going through some seriously heavy and painful personal challenges — you are even more amazing than I ever realized!

    Thank goodness you’re almost out of the woods <3!

    • It was a large part of how I go through such a difficult time, I had to focus on something I love and not disappoint those who count on me. You are such a sweetheart Emily, thank you for such kind words of support. xo

  13. Thanks for sharing your story in such a moving, simple and articulate way. You have been through so much, and I am amazed that you have been able to keep up your oh-so-stylish and inspirational blogging throughout. You deserve the time now for your recuperation, and I hope it goes perfectly well and very soon all this will be behind you. Karen x

  14. Bless you on your journey and Goddess-speed a full and quick recovery. You have been such an inspiration with your articles and reviews, the first blog I ever followed. I’ll miss you but am glad you are taking time to heal and recover. Lots of hugs and healing vibes your way. Thanks for everything you do!

  15. I’ve been so behind on blog reading and just saw this now. I admire you so much my sweet and am so sorry for what you’ve had to endure! And if this post is anything to draw strength from, looking at the comments you are surrounded by SO many people who are supporting you and sending love your way. You’ve got many many rays of sunshine and healing coming your way from Australia. Be strong girl – we’re all right there holding your hand. xo -Kara

  16. Oh Jessica, how frightening for you! I am sure everything will come out well. I’ve had my share of health scares and medical exams and unfortunate sidelines throughout the 13,14 years since I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease. So believe me when I say, I truly can sympathize with you. I know how scary and frustrating it can be. Stay strong and know that we’re all rooting for you and praying for your health! I wish you all the best for your recovery and I look forward to seeing your posts again!

    ♥ Lauren

    • You are a sweetheart Lauren. Starting to feel better now 4 weeks post surgery but it’s still a long road ahead to feel 100% again. Focusing on my love of blogging and fashion is a nice pick-me-up. ❤ Jessica

      • One benefit of me being so behind on the blogs is that you’re already in the recovery phase by the time I saw this! That’s wonderful, I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling a bit better. Continued well wishes to you! ♥

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